Porphyromonas gulae activates unprimed and gamma interferon-primed macrophages via the pattern recognition receptors Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), TLR4, and NOD2

James A Holden, Neil M O'Brien-Simpson, Jason C Lenzo, Rebecca K.H. Orth, Ashley Mansell, Eric Charles Reynolds

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Porphyromonas gulae is an anaerobic, Gram-negative coccobacillus that has been associated with periodontal disease in companion animals. The aims of this study were to analyze the ligation of pattern recognition receptors by P. gulae and the subsequent activation of macrophages. Exposure of HEK cells transfected with Toll-like receptors (TLRs) or NOD-like receptors to P. gulae resulted in the ligation of TLR2, TLR4, and NOD2. The effects of this engagement of receptors were investigated by measuring the synthesis of nitric oxide (NO), CD86 expression, and inflammatory cytokine production by wild-type, TLR2-/-, and TLR4-/- macrophages. The addition of P. gulae to unprimed and gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-primed (M1 phenotype) macrophages significantly increased the surface expression of CD86, but only M1 macrophages produced nitric oxide. P. gulae-induced expression of CD86 on unprimed macrophages was dependent on both TLR2 and TLR4, but CD86 expression and NO production in M1 macrophages were only TLR2 dependent. P. gulae induced an increase in secretion of interleukin-1α (IL-1α), IL-1β, IL-6, IL-12p70, IL-13, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (GCSF), monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), and macrophage inflammatory protein 1α (MIP-1α) by M1 macrophages compared to that by unprimed controls. Among these cytokines, secretion of IL-6 and TNF-α by M1 macrophages was dependent on either TLR2 or TLR4. Our data indicate that TLR2 and TLR4 are important for P. gulae activation of unprimed macrophages and that activation and effector functions induced in M1 macrophages by P. gulae are mainly dependent on TLR2. In conclusion, P. gulae induces a strong TLR2-dependent inflammatory M1 macrophage response which may be important in establishing the chronic inflammation associated with periodontal disease in companion animals.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00282-17
Number of pages15
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017


  • Companion animals
  • Pattern recognition receptors
  • Periodontal disease
  • Porphyromonas gulae

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